Prospect Interviews: Williams, Sampson, Reyes

The San Diego Padres came to terms with outfielders Donavan Tate, Everett Williams, along with right-handers Keyvius Sampson and Jorge Reyes prior the signing deadline on Monday. Here are exclusive full interviews from Williams, Sampson and Reyes:

Everett Williams, outfielder, second-round

Having run the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds during one workout in front of scouts, Everett Williams is free to compare himself to some of the top speed prospects in the game.

Add in burgeoning power in his 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame, and a healthy combination of speed and power is more comparable.

"I guess you could say B.J. Upton – no, Carl Crawford," Everett Williams ammended. "He has great speed, can hit for power and plays a great outfield."

Crawford hit .295 in the minors but notched just 17 homers. It wasn't until his second year in Tampa that the talented outfielder hit double-digit homers. Crawford was, however, a severe threat to steal bases – snaring 134 bags in 412 minor league games and averaging over 50 in the majors.

Upton, incidentally, hit 50 bombs in the minors with a career .296 average. He also swiped 150 bases. He doesn't have a huge major league career to draw upon for comparison yet, but the early returns have been promising.

"It feels pretty good to be selected," Williams said.

Was the 18-year-old happy with where he was selected, since most publications had him going in between 17-25 in the first round. Was he happy?

"Not really, I was hoping to go higher," Williams admitted.

In high school, the left-handed hitter flashed a plethora of tools – making those lofty comparisons to players in the majors seem not that far off.

"I can hit for average, I can also hit for power, I am real quick," Williams began. "I can cover a lot of ground in the outfield.

"My best asset is my speed. My ability to track down balls in the outfield. It translates to the base paths as well."

An 18-year-old out of McCallum High School in Austin, Texas, he hit .462 with six home runs, 34 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 2009.

During the past off-season, Williams put on 10 pounds of lean muscle in an effort to get stronger. His eventual hope is it leads to more natural power – something that scouts already are raving about.

"I was in the weight room every day working out," he said.

One thing he feared the added muscle would do was make him look for home runs. It brought out a flaw in his game – one he is cognizant of.

"I need to remind myself to stay short to the ball," Williams said. "That is the only thing I really worry about. Every now and then, I get slow and long and need to work on that.

A 2008 Aflac All-America where he went 0-for-3 out of the leadoff spot while batting leadoff at Dodger Stadium. That is not an indication of how his career has gone.

Williams tallied 36 home runs, 173 RBI and 73 stolen bases over his high school career, hitting over .400 each season.

Playing for a team that wasn't very good in 2009, scouts believe he began to press and swing at pitches outside of his zone – something he didn't do as often in the past.

"Some scouts think I don't but I do have patience," Williams said. "They see me putting pressure on myself but I am not really trying to."

Whether Williams signs with the Padres may come down to the August 17 deadline. If they are able to consummate a deal, it could be a huge windfall for the system – bringing a rare combination of tremendous power ability with raw speed.

Keyvius Sampson, right-hander, fourth-round

Keyvius Sampson has an electric arm that the San Diego Padres have added to the mix. Given his past, Sampson has a mature approach with a burning desire to succeed.

You got drafted by the Padres in the fouth-round. Talk a little bit about that, and how you're feeling.

Keyvius Sampson: I feel pretty good about it. I didn't think it would be the Padres, but I feel ready to play for any team. It's a dream come true.

Did you think some one else was going to pick you? Maybe someone whose been on your tail for a little while.

Keyvius Sampson: I was actually talking to Texas, and Texas was one pick behind the Padres. We hadn't heard anything from the Padres until early, early, early this morning. They had never given us the final yes or no.

You got to play in the AFLAC all-American game and I actually saw you pitch there and you struck out two if I remember right, talk a little bit about playing in Dodger stadium and that experience.

Keyvius Sampson: That was a once in a lifetime experience. You always dream about playing in a major league field as a kid and it was a dream come true. To play there as a 17-year-old, people kept asking ‘how was it? Did the ball carry out there?' It was amazing.

You probably matured a lot more in the past few years than a lot of different high school kids. Can you talk about the maturation process and what its done for you as a baseball player?

Keyvius Sampson: It has done a lot for me. Its helped me to think things through and make difficult decisions. I've grown up a lot faster than most kids have. I would never wish what I went through on other kids because some people take things a different way. But I was fortunate enough to have the support system that I had in Ocala, Florida and actually all over Florida that helped me through everything that I went through.

I know this is a tough subject, but what would your mom say today?

Keyvius Sampson: She would be happy for me, but she would probably be telling me to go to school. That's still not out of the question, we just have to wait on some stuff like signing and see what the situation is as far as the contract. We still haven't talked about money or things of that nature, so I can't say if I'm signing.

Let's talk about your stuff. Tell me a little bit about the pitches you throw and the speeds you throw them at.

Keyvius Sampson: My fastball this year, I pitched around 89-93. I topped out this year at 97. My curveball is about 78-80 mph and my changeup is 83-85 mph.

So what is your strikeout pitch? You racked them up pretty regularly this year.

Keyvius Sampson: My fastball and my changeup this year. My curveball has always been an out pitch, but I kind of laid off the curveball so that I could get to the changeup and make it better.

Looking at the Padres organization, what do you look forward to in professional baseball?

Keyvius Sampson: Just going out there and having fun. Your job is waking up every morning and smelling the fresh cut grass and the popcorn and you're just going out there and playing baseball, and that's actually your job. It's a dream come true.

What do you need to do to improve to take your game to the next level?

Keyvius Sampson: Working out, getting more weight, more muscle mass and getting more control of my pitches. I've already started doing those things everyday. I'm in weight room, I pitch, I throw, long toss, short boxing and I still go throw pens and just working hard and continue to be motivated and being the best player that I can be.

Do you worry that when you're working out it might affect the mechanics of your pitching?

Keyvius Sampson: No, I work out around pitching and do exercising that pitchers should do. I stay away from bench press and things like that. I mostly concentrate on my legs.

What do you think that someone seeing you for the first time won't know about you, but should?

Keyvius Sampson: I'm very shy. A lot of people consider me a leader on the field and off the field, but I'm actually pretty shy. It depends on the situation. I can go into a large crowd and be the first one to introduce myself, but I'm actually pretty shy when it comes to certain things.

Going into professional baseball, did you get a chance to hit in high school and are you going to miss that?

Keyvius Sampson: I actually did hit. I led our team in set records for hitting last year. This year, I'm going to continue to hit a little bit.

One of the things the scouts mentioned was they think there's even more velocity in your arm, Do you think that as well?

Keyvius Sampson: I do. That was actually a key component, and a key point of showing that I do have more. I came in throwing at 93-94, and I worked out hard all winter, before the season started and through the season and there was one game where my dad said, ‘Go through an inning or two, not worrying about the strike zone, let's just see what you have.' And during that game I was at 97, six or seven times and I was pitching at 93-94.

So everything now is about finding that consistency, where you can hit that each time?

Keyvius Sampson: Yes, which I'm actually on the verge of doing actually. I'm feeling a whole lot stronger since I've been working out since the high school season's been done. That's kind of the reason I didn't do many workouts this year, because I wanted to get in my off-season mode and be the best that I could be entering either college or professional baseball.

So how much do you still have to learn in the game of baseball?

Keyvius Sampson: There's a whole lot to learn in the game of baseball, being around different players and coaches you're always learning something new. You may have done it one way, but you might learn how to do it differently which might be better for you. There's a whole lot you can learn in the game of baseball. You can never know too much or learn too much.

Is there someone in the Major leagues today that you emulate, or strive to be like?

Keyvius Sampson: Chipper Jones. He's a guy whose been with his team for a countless number of years and he'd never think about trading just to get more money. He could do it, but he loves the Atlanta Braves. I look up to him because there's a lot of guys that move around just to get more money. But he's made himself known in the city of Atlanta and he continues to stick there with the fans and the club and that's the kind of loyalty that I respect and that's the way that I want to be. I want to play with a team for 20-30 years and be known in that city and become a Hall of Fame player.

It's funny, you didn't even pick a pitcher.

Keyvius Sampson: Well, one of my favorite pitchers just retired, Greg Maddux.

Jorge Reyes, right-hander, 17th-round>

Jorge Reyes has Scott Boras as an advisor, and was thought to be a tough sign for the San Diego Padres. Still, they are glad to add his arm to the stable given his solid repertoire.

Congratulations you got drafted by the Padres in the 17th-round. Can you talk a little bit about that and the feeling that it gave you when you saw your name go across the board.

Jorge Reyes: I actually wasn't watching it. The guy called me and I thought it was going to be some more questions but he said, ‘Congratulations we just picked you up.' and that was pretty exciting. That's what I'd been waiting for all day so that was cool.

Talk a little bit about your game and your style of play on the mound. What kind of pitcher do you see yourself as?

Jorge Reyes: I don't throw the ball really hard. I know that there are guys out there that throw in the mid-90s. I sit around in the low-90s, 91-92. I'm a sinker guy. I like throwing hard in and my slider is my out pitch, just aggressiveness and I try to get a lot of ground ball outs.

Is there a trait that some one seeing you for the first time might not notice, but they probably should know?

Jorge Reyes: Someone whose just watching me for the first time might see my body size [I'm kind of small] they might think I'm just another average pitcher, but they don't know how aggressive I am. After you see me a few times you can see the passion that I have for the game and I just enjoy being out on the ballpark, and people notice that after awhile.

You mentioned your fastball being 90, 91, 92, and that it had a little bit of sink on it. Talk a little bit about your secondary pitches and when you use them.

Jorge Reyes: Coming into college, I didn't have a changeup because in high school I just threw fastballs. But when I got to college Coach Spencer taught me to throw changeups and Coach Yadiz all followed me in throwing changeups and I guess I try to pack heat with the fastball and changeups to left-handers and off-speed counts. Sometimes I try to throw a changeup when there's an off-speed count to get the guy off guard and sliders I pretty much throw whenever I want. I like going backdoor with it to left-handers and a lot of people on a 3-2 count expect a fastball and I can throw a slider for a strike. Sliders I throw whenever I want. Fastballs I try to throw first pitch and in late in the count.

What do you think you need to improve to take your game to the next level?

Jorge Reyes: I think I need to work on my changeup a little more, and the aggressiveness, the competitiveness I play with isn't always there. There are days when I go out there and I just feel unstoppable and go out there fast paced and some days where things don't go exactly as I would like them to and I get a little down, I think that if I could get that consistency with the aggressiveness and just go out there and play hard like I know that I can then things will work out for me.

Is there a pitcher in the major leagues that you emulate, or aspire to be like?

Jorge Reyes: I don't watch enough MLB. I'm sure that there are a ton of arms out there that people can compare me to but I think when I watch Josh Beckett pitch, there's always that look in his eye, just fearless and aggressive. When he was in the playoffs the last couple of years it looks like he's thinking, ‘No one can get a hit off me.' He just spots up. He throws a lot harder than I do, but he's a great pitcher and I'd just like to be like him one day. Jake Peavy he goes out there and works hard every day. Those guys are just amazing. I sit down and watch videos sometimes and see what they do that can help my game.

You got to pitch in the College World Series and obviously things didn't work out this year, but talk a little bit about that experience and how its helped you mature.

Jorge Reyes: Being at Oregon State for three years, I've had three different coaches and have learned a lot from all three of them. Going to the College World Series, pitching in that kind of atmosphere really says something and after pitching there and its really exciting and it kind of gets you ready to pitch in front of different kinds of fans. Pitching in those competitions is fun and you learn from everything.

Did you get a chance to talk to guys like Mitch Canham and Dan Robertson?

Jorge Reyes: Yeah Daniel called me before. I saw I had a missed call and it was him before I even got my call from the Padres guy and he left me a message telling me to ‘either tear it up in Eugene or see him down in Fort Wayne where he's playing.'

Then I talked to Mitch who said, ‘Tell them to send me to Double-A with me so I can make you a big leaguer.' He said, ‘cDongratulations' and I told him that ‘I had a little way to catch up to him and we'll see how that works.'

How nice is it to have those two guys as well as to go in with Adalberto Santos, who got drafted in the 35th-round by San Diego?

Jorge Reyes: It's kind of cool. I just called Adalberto after he texted me and told me that he got picked up. I just said ‘congratulations' and it's kind of cool if he goes and I go together. And with Daniel being there its cool. He knows the ropes. He knows his way around. As far as Mitch being up there, I'm sure that he's got his advice. When I started Oregon State, he let me live at his house and he's a great guy.

I think I read a story somewhere about your grandfather bringing a goat with him to the College World Series?

Jorge Reyes: My family is one of the most important things to me, and all of my decision making was based on family, everybody that's a part of my life and a big part of this whole experience. My mom and dad who said that they would support me either way and they're really excited. It was kind of cool for them to experience this. As far as the goat thing goes, we went down to Mexico and that was a great meal we had. My grandpa went down to Omaha and he kind of missed that Mexican food, so he brought a little bit of that with him.

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